Church kids or Children of God?

For a few years, I’ve had this nagging feeling that won’t go away.  I don’t want “church kids”!  Does that mean I don’t want my kids going to church or viewing church as an important part of their lives? Certainly not and I believe it’s an essential part of their spiritual growth.  I just want more for them than obedience and going through the motions.  Anyone can be trained to obey over time, but do you want your kids to obey mainly because they fear the consequences?  I want them to trust God in all things with their lives and to know He won’t fail them.  I want their souls to be on fire for Him, but that may take some time to happen.  My hope is that they find their identity in being a child of God because our strength is in Him not us.

As Christ following parents, it can be tempting to focus on performance in our kids.  Sometimes it’s for our selfish image in the church. Other times we get lost in the chaos and exhaustion of our daily routine that we don’t take the time to think about our parenting motives. We just want them to do what their told!  I get that, I have 4 children and I know how that feels to be so tired and if they could just be the good Christian kids I want them to be.  If they would just stop fighting and tattling and just sit down at the table like the well behaved kids in the booth next to us, that would be GREAT!  The more I go through these experiences with my children that I cannot for the life of me control, the more I know God is using it for our family’s good and for His glory.  He is teaching me to point them in His direction because I can’t do it in my own strength.

The enemy takes every opportunity to distort God’s purpose for us.  Think about about play dates for example.  The purpose is to come together in community and fellowship with one another with benefits for parents and children.  I’ve seen it happen over and over again where Moms begin to compare their child’s behavior with another child.  If their child is the one that’s going through a season in which the Lord is working on them, they are usually the targets.  God is exposing their sin so it can come out into the light, but we typically want to shut down the behavior immediately and make them behave.  That tactic backfires and the enemy takes that opportunity to tempt you into humiliation, shame, and isolation.

Don’t allow the seemingly difficult season your child is in to allow the enemy to make you feel unworthy of community.  Please don’t allow anyone make you feel like a worn out and bad parent because your child isn’t good at performing.  Be thankful to God that your child can be free and honest in the season of life they’re in.  How sad it would be for our kids to avoid coming to us with a struggle in their teens for fear of rejection, condemnation, or lack of unconditional love.  Be thankful in those days they have public tantrums and your face turns bright red, for the judgement of others can easily change them into obedient guarded church goers. God wants more for our families!  

This verse always encourages me as a parent.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  In those embarrassing moments with our kids, there is a purpose.  When we feel defeated as parents, there is hope.  Don’t be discouraged, He is using it all!  

He makes all things new!

Church Vulnerability… sounds kind of scary, doesn’t it?  What would a vulnerable church look like?
At first it would seem to be quite a mess!  I mean think about it… God’s people coming together and actually being honest about their struggles.  You would have to choose to be exposed and that can be frightening!  Where does that come from?  Why are we so afraid of the truth?
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about exposure in the church is the beginning in the garden.  There was nothing to hide from because the awareness of sin wasn’t there.  There was just total trust in the creator and each other.  Relationship was good!
Then the fall came and changed the way life was intended to be.  The lies and schemes of the enemy was convincing and there seemed to be a better way.  We had everything we needed!  What could be better than all the food, animals, beautiful surroundings… all that He made just for us, and a close relationship with the creator.
When we first knew this love, it was more love than we could take in… amazing and perfect.  It was that way in the beginning of Genesis and at the start of a relationship with God today.  It was like a honeymoon phase with God and completely satisfying.  Then, the awareness of sin crept in.  The very thing God was trying to protect us from is what caused shame and condemnation in us… NOT GOD.  The awareness of sin created a panic in us, “Wait a minute, we’re naked… hurry up and grab some leaves and cover it all up!”.   Isn’t that what we still do to ourselves and each other?  Instead of confessing our sin to Him and each other, we try to hide it, but it never really goes away, does it?  We’ll do whatever is necessary for change except to be vulnerable and allow God and others to view our imperfection, so change can take place.  They see it in us anyway.  We’re all naked under those leaves and we all struggle in this fallen world.
My prayer is that we would come together under God’s guidance and be real about where we are in life.   Let the judgements of each other fall away.  Confess and repent our sins to God and share that with others to encourage them that they’re not alone.  Stop hiding beneath the leaves and be honest so real change in growth can take place.
What in your life is keeping you from freedom or growth in Christ?  Did the pain from your earthly father distort your view of your heavenly Father?  Is it pain and mistakes in your past that holds you back?  Maybe you struggle with destructive habits you can’t get out of by yourself.
Whatever it is that is keeping you from being vulnerable, I pray that you would lay it all at the foot of the cross because He already died for those things.  He knows what you’ve done and knows what you will do before it happens.  He conquered the grave and your chains are broken.  I pray you know that you are free only in Jesus Christ who suffered to bring true healing and salvation in your life.
Give the God who created you the credit and belief that He can restore it all.  He won’t replace your memories, your past, or your family, but he will restore all the hurt and bring healing and purpose out of your pain if you trust in Him.  That’s what he does, as my good friend “C” recently reminded me… He makes all things new!